\ ˈshāk How to pronounce shake (audio) \
shook\ ˈshu̇k How to pronounce shook (audio) \; shaken\ ˈshā-​kən How to pronounce shaken (audio) \; shaking

Definition of shake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to move irregularly to and fro
2 : to vibrate especially as the result of a blow or shock
3 : to tremble as a result of physical or emotional disturbance shook with fear
4 : to experience a state of instability : totter
5 : to briskly move something to and fro or up and down especially in order to mix
6 : to clasp hands

transitive verb

1 : to brandish, wave, or flourish often in a threatening manner protesters shaking their fists
2 : to cause to move to and fro, up and down, or from side to side especially in a repetitive, rhythmic, or quick jerky manner shook his head in disapproval
3 : to cause to quake, quiver, or tremble
4a : to free oneself from shake a habit shake off a cold
b : to get away from : get rid of can you shake your friend? I want to talk to you alone— Elmer Davis
5 : to lessen the stability of : weaken shake one's faith
6 : to bring to a specified condition by or as if by repeated quick jerky movements shook himself loose from the man's grasp
7 : to dislodge or eject by quick jerky movements of the support or container shook the dust from the cloth
8 : to clasp (hands) in greeting or farewell or as a sign of goodwill or agreement
9 : to stir the feelings of : upset, agitate shook her up
shake a leg
1 : dance
2 : to hurry up
shake a stick at
: to form a conception of (as by counting or imagining) : conceive usually used in the phrase more than one can shake a stick at



Definition of shake (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of shaking: such as
a : an act of shaking hands
b : an act of shaking oneself
2a : a blow or shock that upsets the equilibrium or disturbs the balance of something
3 shakes plural
a : a condition of trembling or nervousness specifically : delirium tremens
4 : something produced by shaking: such as
a : a fissure separating annual rings of growth in timber
b(1) : milkshake
(2) : a beverage resembling a milkshake a protein shake
5 : a wavering, quivering, or alternating motion caused by a blow or shock
6 : trill
7 : a very brief period of time I'll be there in two shakes
8 shakes plural : one that is exceptional especially in importance, ability, or merit usually used in the phrase no great shakes
9 : a shingle split from a piece of log usually three or four feet (about one meter) long
10 : deal entry 2 sense 3 a fair shake

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Other Words from shake


shakable or shakeable \ ˈshā-​kə-​bəl How to pronounce shakeable (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for shake


shake, agitate, rock, convulse mean to move up and down or to and fro with some violence. shake often carries a further implication of a particular purpose. shake well before using agitate suggests a violent and prolonged tossing or stirring. an ocean agitated by storms rock suggests a swinging or swaying motion resulting from violent impact or upheaval. the whole city was rocked by the explosion convulse suggests a violent pulling or wrenching as of a body in a paroxysm. spectators were convulsed with laughter

Examples of shake in a Sentence

Verb The ground shook during the earthquake. The house shook as the train rumbled by. The earthquake shook the ground. Shake the salad dressing well before using it. I was so nervous that I was shaking like a leaf. The fugitive couldn't shake the police. It's hard to shake the feeling that I'm forgetting something. The news did nothing to shake my belief that things will be okay. Nothing could shake his faith in God. Noun He responded to the question with a shake of his head. Give the dice a shake. He drank too much coffee and got a bad case of the shakes.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb How much powdered sugar do the girls shake on the cake? Joan Elovitz Kazan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Treats symbolize hope for sweetness as Jewish community prepares for a socially distant Rosh Hashanah," 12 Sep. 2020 Or shake your head in bewilderment over the brutal 46 minutes? Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Do Cleveland Cavaliers regret not drafting Michael Porter Jr. in 2018? Hey, Chris!," 12 Sep. 2020 Meeting a starmaker like Ortega didn't shake Reyes either. Breanne L. Heldman,, "Julie and the Phantoms Star Madison Reyes Breaks Down Her Audition to Lead the New Netflix Show," 10 Sep. 2020 The film doesn’t totally shake its cartoon roots, at least in terms of some of the fantastical nature of the action scenes. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, "No songs, no Mushu, no theaters. What to expect from Disney's visually stunning 'Mulan'," 3 Sep. 2020 In a cocktail shaker, shake first 6 ingredients to froth egg white. Aleksandra Crapanzano, WSJ, "Rose Recipes for the Prettiest Cakes and Cocktails," 3 Sep. 2020 With the current commission only recently taking office, losing such a key figure will likely shake confidence in its executive. Jonathan Stearns,, "EU Trade Chief Hogan Quits Amid Storm Over Breach of Virus Rules," 29 Aug. 2020 By contrast, a situation where the results are disputed could shake confidence among investors. Matt Egan, CNN, "Wall Street's worst nightmare isn't Trump or Biden. It's no clear winner at all," 20 Aug. 2020 This will completely shake the 2020 Presidential election. Daniel Chaitin, Washington Examiner, "Rudy Giuliani teases 'major exposé' on day of Biden's DNC acceptance speech," 19 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The school-year shake-up stems from the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has resulted in nearly 195,000 positive cases and more than 14,000 deaths. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "School starts, paper masks, ‘hero pay’: News from around our 50 states," 11 Sep. 2020 The launch of talks also comes just days after an unexpected shake-up within the Taliban’s negotiating team. Susannah George, Washington Post, "Talks between Taliban, Afghan government to begin this weekend after 6 high-value prisoners released from Afghan custody," 10 Sep. 2020 At the time of its staff shake-up, the campaign also began reexamining its advertising strategy. Sarah Ewall-wice, CBS News, "Trump's reelection bid blew through $830 million before Labor Day," 9 Sep. 2020 The movie houses of Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York shake with applause. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Digital and drive-in, film festivals try to salvage a season," 8 Sep. 2020 The movie houses of Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York shake with applause. Jake Coyle, Star Tribune, "Digital and drive-in, film festivals try to salvage a season," 8 Sep. 2020 Two days ago the Army announced a shake-up at Fort Hood, replacing the top commander. Robert Gearty, Fox News, "Fort Hood soldier's death marks 28th at Texas base this year," 5 Sep. 2020 That shake-up may not be as benign as central bankers or Presidents expect. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Jerome Powell’s Target, Everyone Else’s Problem," 3 Sep. 2020 Wheeler, during his remarks, said several EPA programs would see a shake-up during a second Trump term, including the water infrastructure, Superfund, and pesticides. Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, "EPA's Wheeler pledges to focus on pollution rather than climate in Trump second term," 3 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shake.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of shake


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shake


Middle English, from Old English sceacan; akin to Old Norse skaka to shake

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Time Traveler for shake

Time Traveler

The first known use of shake was before the 12th century

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Statistics for shake

Last Updated

15 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for shake


How to pronounce shake (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move sometimes violently back and forth or up and down with short, quick movements
: to move or have parts of your body move in short, quick movements and in a way that you are not able to control
: to free yourself from (someone or something) : to get away from or get rid of (someone or something)



English Language Learners Definition of shake (Entry 2 of 2)

: a short, quick movement back and forth or up and down
informal : a condition in which parts of your body move in a way that you are not able to control


\ ˈshāk How to pronounce shake (audio) \
shook\ ˈshu̇k \; shaken\ ˈshā-​kən \; shaking

Kids Definition of shake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to make or cause to make quick movements back and forth or up and down The ground shook. Squirrels shook the branches.
2 : to tremble or make tremble : quiver She was so frightened her legs began to shake.
3 : to move from side to side I shook my head.
4 : to grasp and move up and down After reaching an agreement, they shook hands.
5 : to get away from She ran faster, but couldn't shake the dog.
6 : to make less firm : weaken After being beaten badly their confidence was shaken.
7 : to cause to be, become, go, or move by or as if by using a quick back and forth motion We can shake apples from the tree.



Kids Definition of shake (Entry 2 of 2)

: a quick back and forth or up and down movement

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